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Join the call for justice in Paanama, Sri Lanka

Signed: 18,879
Goal: 20,000
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Farmers and fisherfolk had lived on their land in Paanama village, Sri Lanka for generations – until they were forcibly evicted by the military overnight. The land they used to grow crops on is now being retained by the government to be used for tourist hotels.

After years of protesting, the government decided in 2015 that the land would be returned to the community – but it has not yet kept this promise. Act now to stand with the community in their fight for land rights.

Paanama is a beautiful village next to the beach in eastern Sri Lanka. Since the civil war ended in 2009, it’s become a popular destination for tourists and surfers from across the world. But it’s also the home of many fisherfolk and farmers, including Rathanamali.

Since Rathanamali and her family were evicted from their land six years ago, they have faced hardship and poverty. They now live in cramped housing, far from the lagoon where Rathnamali’s husband used to catch fish, and have to pay to rent fields to grow food.

“Life is tough after our lands were taken from us” says Rathnamali.

There are 350 other families in the same situation as Rathanamali. The community has worked together to protest, but their peaceful struggle has been met with threats, intimidation and legal action.

Despite these dangers, the community has refused to give up, and last year the government finally agreed to return the land, recognising the community’s rights. But the government has yet to keep its promise. The community is still waiting for their land and their home back.

Tourism is increasingly important in Sri Lanka - but people should not be evicted from their homes to make way for hotels. The people of Paanama have been excluded from the development process, where profits are funnelled out of the community – at the cost of villagers, farmers, fisherfolk being displaced.

We stand in support of ethical tourism. We assert that the community should be integrated into development initiatives and be stakeholders of its interventions.

We need to stand with the community of Paanama and make sure their lands are returned. We urge you to join this collective voice in calling for justice for Paanama.

Take a Stand for Land Rights in Sri Lanka

To the Government of Sri Lanka:

The community of Paanama have suffered for too long without their land, which was previously a military base and now will be used for tourist hotels. The land rights of all communities across Sri Lanka should be respected. You must implement the Cabinet decision to release the lands in Paanama and return the land to the community immediately.

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